Getting a big chest isn’t just about aesthetics, it’s about building strength and improving your overall upper body fitness. The pectoral muscles play an essential role in many of our everyday movements, from lifting and carrying to pressing and pulling. So, whether you’re after the broad, powerful look or simply want to amp up your strength, here are some of the best chest exercises that will help you build a big, strong chest.
Barbell Bench Press
The barbell bench press is the quintessential chest exercise and a staple in nearly all chest-building workout routines. By working out your entire chest, shoulders, and triceps, it targets a broad range of muscles. To perform this exercise:
– Lie back on a flat bench with your feet flat on the ground. Grab the barbell with an overhand grip, hands just wider than shoulder-width apart.
– Lower the barbell down to your chest, keeping your elbows at a 90-degree angle.
– Push the barbell back up until your arms are fully extended. Be careful not to lock your elbows or lift your back off the bench.
The dumbbell press is another excellent compound exercise that targets your chest, shoulders, and triceps. Using dumbbells allows for a greater range of motion than a barbell, which can lead to improved muscle activation and growth.
– Lie back on a flat bench with a dumbbell in each hand. Your feet should be flat on the floor.
– Push the dumbbells up until your arms are fully extended above your chest. Keep your wrists straight.
– Lower the dumbbells slowly until they are level with your chest, then push them back up.
Incline Dumbbell Press
An incline press primarily targets the upper part of your chest, the clavicular head of the pectoralis major, and the front part of your shoulders. It’s a great exercise to add variety and focus on a frequently underworked area of the chest.
– Set your bench to a 45-degree incline. Lie back with a dumbbell in each hand.
– Push the dumbbells up until your arms are fully extended. The dumbbells should be over your upper chest.
– Slowly lower the dumbbells until they are level with your chest, then push them back up.
Push-ups are a timeless chest exercise and one of the best bodyweight exercises you can do. They target your chest, triceps, and shoulders while engaging your core and lower back.
– Start in a high plank position with your palms flat on the floor, hands shoulder-width apart.
– Lower your body until your chest almost touches the floor.
– Push your body back up to the initial position. Make sure to keep your body in a straight line throughout the movement.
Dips (Chest Variation)
Dips, specifically the chest variation, are an excellent exercise for the lower part of your chest.
– Start by grabbing the bars and jumping up to a straight-arm position.
– Lower your body by bending your arms, leaning forward slightly. Go as low as you comfortably can to get the maximum range of motion.
– Push back up to the starting position.
Cable flyes are a fantastic isolation exercise that targets the chest without much assistance from other muscles.
– Stand in the middle of a cable machine, holding a D-handle attached to the high pulleys in each hand.
– With a slight bend in your elbows, bring your hands together in front of your body. Feel the squeeze in your chest at the end of the movement.
– Slowly reverse the movement, allowing your chest muscles to fully stretch out.
Pec Deck Machine
Pec deck machines offer a great way to isolate the chest muscles. Because this machine has a fixed pathway, it helps maintain proper form, minimizing the risk of injury.
– Sit on the machine with your back flat against the pad.
– Place your forearms on the padded levers. Your upper arms should be parallel to the floor.
– Push the levers together, squeezing your chest muscles as you do so.
– Slowly let the levers go back to the starting position.
The Svend Press is a lesser-known but highly effective exercise for chest development, targeting the inner part of your chest.
– Stand upright, holding two weight plates together at chest level. The plates should be pressed together, using the palms of your hands.
– Push the plates straight out in front of your chest, fully extending your arms while ensuring the plates remain pressed together. You should feel a squeeze in your chest muscles.
– Slowly bring the plates back to your chest.
Pull overs are an excellent exercise for targeting both the chest and the lats.
– Lie perpendicular to a flat bench with only your shoulders resting on the surface. Your feet should be flat on the ground, and your body should form a straight line from head to knees.
– Hold a dumbbell with both hands overhead, keeping a slight bend in your elbows.
– Lower the weight in an arc behind your head, then lift it back to the starting position.
Remember that incorporating these exercises into your routine isn’t enough on its own. Proper nutrition, rest, and consistency are also key factors for muscle growth. Aim for 8-12 reps and 3-4 sets of each exercise for optimal hypertrophy. As always, proper form should be prioritized over heavy weights to avoid injury and ensure maximum muscle engagement.
Incorporate these exercises into your routine, and you’ll be well on your way to building a big, strong chest. Don’t forget to change up your routine occasionally to keep your muscles guessing and to prevent plateaus.